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Mumbai Terror attacks: Urban Jihad comes to India By Walid Phares

Posted by :) on December 5, 2008

As we write this short early assessment of the Terror attacks in Mumbai, events are still unforlding in the financial capital of the sub Indian region. Counter Terrorism units are battling armed elements inside several buildings including the Taj Hotel where hostages have been seized, including foreigners. My first round of monitoring included a discussion with our colleague Animesh Roul who has also posted a report on CTB. I must credit a number of facts and assumptions to him including the projection that the perpetrators -although calling themselves Deccan Mujahideen- are in fact members or trained by Lashkar e Toiba/SIMI (who according to Animesh Roul now call themselves Indian Mujahideen). Here is the condensed report I discussed on Fox News, the BBC, Russia Today TV and other international outlets.

Type of Operation

According to sources in Mumbai, armed groups and individuals have attacked at least ten (if not more) targets inside the city including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, a railway Station, the Leopold Café and other locations. More shooting incidents have been also reported at the Trident hotel, a hospital and a highway leading to the airport and Assembly Hall. The terrorists fired indiscriminately against civilians, security elements, lobbed grenades, and killed Counter Terrorism officials. At this writing sources are reporting more than 102 deaths, amd hundreds wounded, in addition to hostage taking. Indian security sources confirmed the use of AK-47s, small arms, grenade, etc. This type of operation, involving a number of small groups and individuals “deployed” across several avenues, In my book Future Jihad I coined these types of forthcoming strikes as “urban Jihad” (Chapter 13). Instead of bombers and suicide bombers, the command sends “Jihadi infantry.” The tactical goal of these actions is to engage in different types of missions: random kilings, chaos, killing of security officers and hostage taking.

Design of the operations

In our estimate, this attack is a “complex” type, where small operations are aimed at creating chaos and triggering security deployment in many areas, while more precise operations could target higher targets such as hostage taking or similar situation. We will probably know more when the dust will settle.


In view of the historical context, precedents and latest analysis, the most likely groups that may be behind these attacks are the Lashkar e Toiba/SIMI (they now call themselves Indian Mujahideen). These groups are Jihadists, have links to the other organizations in Kashmir but also inside Pakistan with pro-Taliban elements and eventually Al Qaeda. The ideological identification is most likely Jihadist although the group almost surely will issue a more than one release to claim the attack and put it in context.

According to Indian sources this is an operation of a very new type in India. The “emirs” have sent these armed elements in their 20s to strike at Indian psyche. One goal is to sink the Pakistani-Indian rapprochement. In Islamabad, the new Government is engaged in operations against the big Jihadi boys ojn the north western frontier. It is quite possible that the Mumbai attacks aim at triggering tensions between the two old foes so that pressure would be released against the radicals in Pakistan. In any event, this is a large Jihadi operation against one of the emerging economies and the largest democraciy n Asia. The goal is to target India as a power engaged in the War on Terror but also to further destabilize the region, including Pakistan and its neighbor Afghanistan.”


Dr Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


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